U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the American soldier who walked off his army base in Afghanistan in 2009, was captured by militants and later freed in a prisoner swap for five Taliban detainees, is asking President Barack Obama for a pardon before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.
Bergdahl is facing an April 18 court-martial trial on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy; prosecutors argue he endangered his fellow troops by leaving the base and starting a 45-day search that directed resources away from combat missions.
Trump has not made any attempt to hide his feelings on the matter, calling him a "no-good traitor who should have been executed." According to the New York Times, Bergdahl's legal team submitted paperwork to the Obama administration requesting the pardon on the basis that a fair trial will be impossible under a Trump presidency.
The L.A. Times noted Trump has also "at times held up an imaginary rifle as if he were taking aim at Bergdahl," as well as advocated the soldier be shot.
As the New York Times also reported, Arizona senator and Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain also said he would hold hearings if Bergdahl was not punished for walking off the base.
"I have grave concerns as to whether Sgt. Bergdahl can receive a fair trial given the beating he has taken over many months from Mr. Trump, who will be commander in chief, as well as Sen. McCain's call for a hearing in case Sgt. Bergdahl is not punished," lead Bergdahl attorney Eugene R. Fidell told the paper. "It is really most unfair."
If convicted, Bergdahl faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.